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Suns pick won’t be influenced by Igor Kokoskov

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The Suns are keeping their new coach away from the decision

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Before the draft lottery secured the first overall pick for the Phoenix Suns, the team hired Igor Kokoskov as their new head coach. Kokoskov was one of Quin Snyder’s top assistants with the Utah Jazz and had formerly been an assistant coach with the Suns. More notable to fans of the Sacramento Kings is the fact that Kokoskov was also Luka Doncic’s head coach for the Slovenian national team that won EuroBasket in 2017.

The natural concern is whether his presence signaled a preference for selecting Doncic. But according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, that won’t be the case.

In fact, look for Phoenix to insulate Kokoskov from the decision, and to put it squarely in the lap of GM Ryan McDonough. That’s not to say Kokoskov won’t have any input, but the Suns do not want to put pressure on their new head coach by leaving the impression that he lobbied for or against Doncic, an impression that could hamstring him even before he started on his new job.

As Deveney outlines in his post, it simply doesn’t make sense to put the pressure on your coach. If the pick is a bust, you don’t want that tied to the coach any more than it otherwise might be. It would simply be a bad move to involve him.

Now the Suns still could ask Kokoskov about Doncic as his former coach, it would be foolish not to use an internal resource that has firsthand experience with a player you’re scouting. But it sounds like the decision is primarily going to be based on Suns GM Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver. Sarver is a big booster for Arizona, leading to speculation that he may favor Deandre Ayton.

For whatever it’s worth, Sarver attended today’s EuroLeague Final Four game while McDonough attended the draft combine in Chicago.

We’ll continue to track any news coming out of Phoenix since the Kings are most likely going to be picking whichever of Ayton or Doncic that the Suns pass on.